I couldn’t think of a better way to jumpstart my New York-themed Muppet Mondays than with something near and dear to my heart (Michelle’s too).
If you read our “About” section on the main page, you know that Michelle and I met while attending Southampton College in Long Island. Neither of us graduated from there. The summer after my freshman year, the school sent first class letters home to inform us that the school would be closing after the spring of 2005. The school was in debt for $70 million, and had been borrowing money from its other campuses to keep us running. (Somehow they managed to build a brand new green library that never housed any books during our time there.)
I’m sure it’s not surprising that this news was devastating. In the beginning, I had been quite homesick – so used to being with the friends and in the town I had known my entire life. I never thought I would find my niche. But I did, and by the end of that first year, I felt very confident about my writing and my direction for the following year, and I loved Southampton. The college and the town. There was no way I wanted to leave the college, especially by force. Not to mention the dishonesty of the situation. It was funny how no one mentioned the money problems during our orientation when our parents were sitting with us in the theater. I’m not sure how they thought they could fix a deficit quite that large, but that’s a whole other story.
Needless to say, Michelle and I both stayed that final year. A year that included letters to Oprah, fundraisers, drama, the works. During our last semester on campus, many of the students had already left, professors were shutting down, and emotions ran high. All the hope the school and the students had in the beginning pretty much disappeared and we were forced to either go to LIU’s other campus (like Chelle ended up doing) or visiting and applying to other schools. At the same time, you still had to do your work and earn your grades like the school wasn’t closing down in a few weeks. Eventually I found a new school, worked really hard those last few months, attended the last Southampton College graduation (where my husband got his degree), and left (pretty much) forever.
So how is there a Muppet connection?
Oddly enough, nine years before that last class graduated on the lawn at Southampton, a little green frog gave a commencement speech and received his Honorary Doctorate in Amphibious Letters. Whatever that means. Yes, Kermit the Frog donned a cap and gown on the same campus I lived on for two years. For a school where most of the students majored in marine science, Kermit couldn’t have been a better choice.
Our school may not have much of a history. (Yes, I still call it my school even if I graduated from another.) I may never have an alumni weekend or be able to casually walk on campus whenever I want, or show my kids where Mommy went to school. But when you go to the Smithsonian in Washington, D.C. and stop and look at a Kermit puppet, there is a gold plate that says he received his Doctorate from Southampton College. When I first saw that last year, I felt pride. And that’s hard to come by when your school is run into the ground.
So there you have it. Kermit got a degree from Southampton College and I didn’t. With anyone else, I might be a tad jealous… maybe even pissed off. But instead, I’m just glad he’s part of the sunnier side of Southampton’s legacy.
Check out his speech here.
P.S. Enter our first giveaway!
P.S.S. Check out why we are dedicating this month to New York.
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Don’t forget to check out the Muppet Monday at Daps Magic Geek Corner.